When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalled Parliament for the seventh consecutive day on Thursday over the coal-block allocation scam, its biggest ally in the region, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), was reluctant to ask for the resignation of the Prime Minister.
Running a coalition government with the BJP in the state, Badal didn't move his head when asked repeatedly to clarify if he agreed with the ally's demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should quit because the allocation was made when he had the charge of the coal ministry. "The issue has been discussed a lot. Ask me something else," the CM told persistent reporters here amid rumours of a rift in the alliance over the BJP's demand. He had a sangat darshan (public contact) programme waiting in the villages of his constituency, Lambi.
Known for his good relations with the PM, in spite of his alliance with the BJP in the state and Centre, the CM didn't betray any soft or hard feelings for Manmohan. "I do not have any soft corner for or enmity with anyone," said Badal, in reply to a query. "My party has made its stand clear in Parliament. Besides, there has been no discussion has in the Lok Sabha since the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report on August 17."
In the past seven days, the SAD's member of parliament from Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is daughter-in-law of the CM, has stated that her party wants to know the PM's stand on the allegations. Replying to another query on his relations with the BJP, Badal insisted that the idea to impose new taxes in the state was of the entire cabinet, including the BJP ministers. "The rationalisation of taxes is the need of the hour," he said. "How can we have development without money? How can we have drinking water and roads?"
The CM dismissed the reports of the BJP's disliking for the new taxes. "Nothing to worry," said Badal. "There is no opposition from the BJP on new taxes. All of us who make the cabinet took that decision."